Part 18: Entry 18 - The 233rd Age
Ive been sitting on the steps of the prison. The sun is as bright and warm as ever, and on this isolated island the smell of the sea is strong. Not much in the way of waves, but they break on the rocks and splash up on the metal walkways on occasion.
Ive been thinking about Gehn.
He talks so much about making amends, but the things Ive seen, the execution tower, the silent terror in the village and Gehns omnipresent thrones of power.
He might talk about savages, but his actions may be the most savage things on the Age.
And Gehn isnt Rivens only hope. Catherine can also write ages, and far better and more stable ones at that. Ive seen it, she succeeded in scant months where Gehn failed over twenty years.
The only question is, has Catherine become enamored with her own power, as Gehn fears and she suggested in her own journal?
But thats not quite true. She hated the reverence, but found it necessary to use it. It cant have been that long since she was trapped.
And Atrus trusts her. I dont know how well a judge of character he is, considering his own children but Atrus is, at the very least, upright.
Ill have to trust them enough to put my hand in a trap for them. Maybe I should leave this journal here
I arrived back in the cage on Gehns 233rd Age.
I didnt wait long, and pressed the bell to summon Gehn.
It didnt take long for Gehn to respond.
Im relieved youve returned.
I thought I detected a smile on his face. He did seem happy to see me.
I thought perhaps you had decided against it.
He quickly doffed his goggles and gloves. The Trap book appeared to be in his bag.
He approached the cage, book in hand. The tension was palpable.
He held up the book, linking panel within arms reach.
I shall follow you directly.
I didnt want to waste this chance, and quickly put my hand on the panel. Too quickly, maybe.
The familiar feel and sound of a link rang out.
But after that, blackness.
I dont know how long I was in there. I felt like I was floating, but somewhere so black I couldnt even see my hands in front of my face. With nothing to accompany but my thoughts It was little wonder Achenar became so unhinged.
I worried that this wouldnt work, that something about my link would reveal the trap to Gehn. I worried that even if Gehn fell for the trap we would both become trapped. Would we be able to talk? Interact?
I remembered Atrus sons, the static filled panels and their pleas for me to help them. I worried what Gehn would see. Did Atrus consider this?
I was in the throes of thoughts like this when a panel opened up in front of me. I froze. I imagined my face, static filled and close to the panel.
Gehn, at least, didnt seem disturbed.
Instead, he readied his goggles, and readied his device. With so close a view, I could see the hole on the end, the handles and the triggers. He was getting a gun ready.
He held his hand up. I dont know what he saw, but there was just a moments hesitation.
But then, slowly, he put his hand on the panel.
There was a linking sound, a brief feeling of vertigo
And I was back on the 233rd Age,
Outside the cage.
The trap book was on the ground at my feet. I was still dizzy and disoriented, but I picked it up and opened it.
I saw a rotating image of Dni, the very room that Atrus had been trapped. But as I watched, I saw a figure, seated at a desk. It was small, and hard to see, but I think it was Gehn.
But I knew he was in there, floating and staring at my face. Shouting, maybe, or staring in anger now that he had been trapped.
I closed the book quickly. I felt his stare from behind that panel and it was making me uncomfortable.
Instead I looked around and tried to find my bearings. Gehns lab on his private Age. His most protected place.
I wandered over to a window with a conspicuous lever. I took a moment and looked at the bizarre landscape outside.
I pulled the lever.
A rattle from behind me turned me around, and I watched the cage lower. That left the door unlocked if I needed to come back.
I circled around to the main door. Maybe I could take a look around at this Age while it was still stable.
The door clicked. It looked like there was a keyhole, but the key was probably on Gehns person. No going outside for now, it seems.
I continued around the room this time coming across a strange device.
I poked at it until something move, the top button depressing into the device. Nothing happened at first but then a tune began to play.
Soundtrack Gehns Piece
It sounded like a reed instrument. It was surprisingly soulful. I left it on as I looked through the rest of the lab.
The table nearby was covered in Ink making things, bottles, and Gehns pipe.
I checked the book, and it was blank. A black linking panel at the front showed this was Gehns next Age in progress.
I took a glance at the spherical hissing boiler. Gehn had refined his book powering device down to something smaller. I left it on. I would need a way out, after all, and I didnt think it would run out of fuel very soon.
The one thing left was a ladder, leading below.
I climbed down into a different room, one that felt much homier than anything else Id seen yet. I paused, the Trap book weighing my pack down.
Next to the ladder was a tapestry hanging from the wall.
Below that was a basin with a working faucet. I stopped to splash some water on my face. I think I was still a bit in shock.
By the window, there was another imager. I wondered to myself, was Gehn so narcissistic that he would have a recording of himself in his bedroom?
I turned the handle, and it flickered to life. A woman appeared, giggling and talking to someone off screen.
Once again, it was in a language I didnt understand.
After a bit of awkwardness, she turned to face the viewer directly, and spoke something. It was short, soft, and heartfelt.
The whole thing was only about 30 seconds long.
The right-hand wall had a couple portraits.
The first was a picture of a woman, the same on in the imager. There was writing on it But it was scratchy and faded. I could just make out the name Gehn at the beginning.
The second was an old man with white hair and piercing eyes.
The other half of the room had a bed and a nightstand.
The nightstand itself had some clothes inside, but more interesting was the book on the table. Another journal, but in a far more personal space instead of Gehns workshop of bookmaking tools and alchemical apparatus.
I opened up the book and began to read.
Editors note: Once again, a typed transcript of the journal can be found Here.
It began with some fairly current events. Catherines arrival on Riven, and her subsequent recovery by the Moiety. Gehns contempt for the people of Riven, even his own lackeys, is palpable.
He called Atrus emotionally crippled. I think it said more about Gehn than Atrus.
Reading this, Gehns casual willingness to subject his people to horrific executions, made me more certain than ever Gehn needed to be in the Trap book.
Neither did Gehn ever realize how badly Catherine outclassed him in the art. Or, perhaps he did realize, but justified his unwillingness to teach his students properly as protecting them.
Gehn talks casually about the past here. Theres a lot I will have to ask Atrus about when I see him again.
Gehns father, and Atrus grandfather, features strongly in Gehns mind. The portrait on the wall is likely of him.
Gehns capture of Catherine was evidently a violent one. Gehn had Atrus pegged on his thought processes though.
Keta. Atrus mothers name was Keta.
And here Gehn notes my arrival. He was very close to figuring out my purpose here, but misinterpreted Atrus goals and abilities.
Such as his willingness to send me to an Age without a way back. It worked, but I wish it hadnt felt so final.
I put down the journal and took a look at a small globe on the nightstand.
Twisting it opened it up, causing it to play a series of sounds. Five of them, of course.
Rattle, rattle, tick, ding, ding.
Id heard the sounds before, the device in the elevator at Catherines prison. Id found the way to free her.
It was a short journey back up to the ladder and then a Link to the Prison Island dome, where I left my journal. I wrote this entry on Gehns chair, looking at the strange mountains outside. For everything hes done, this place is starkly beautiful.
Im nearly done here. Its time to signal Atrus.